With a population of nearly 10 million, the city of Cairo is in desperate need of a public transportation system to accommodate commuters.
The city has two modes of public transport – city bus and an underground metro. City buses have high floors and multiple steps, making them inaccessible to the mobility impaired. The metro, which debuted in 1987, was not built with accessibility in mind.
The metro system currently consists of three lines, with a fourth planned for the future. Lines 1 and 2, due to their age, are not wheelchair accessible. Line three, which first opened in 2012 and which is undergoing expansion, looks like this:
Despite elevators in many of the line 3 stations, the step/gap between the train and platform makes the system inaccessible to wheelchair users. Why the city would invest in a new line without planning for accessibility confuses me. Raising the platform at a few of the carriage entrances could create accessibility, but even that has not been done. The transportation authority will need to review accessibility on line 3, once it is connected to Cairo International Airport.
The proposed fourth line, which is planned to connect Cairo West to East, crossing both branches of the Nile at Gezira Island, is supposedly being designed with greater accessibility in mind. The target opening date is in the year 2020.
Of course, the accessibility of trains and stations does little good without accessible sidewalks. As such, in order to truly open Cairo to people with disabilities, the government will need to embark on a significant journey of creating accessibility where it has not existed before.
With discussions for a monorail and an order for low-floor buses underway, Cairo has an excellent opportunity to innovate into an accessible community. I certainly hope government officials take advantage of the possibilities before them.